Stratford, Robert de (DNB00)


STRATFORD, ROBERT de (d. 1362), bishop of Chichester and chancellor, was son of Robert and Isabella de Stratford, and younger brother of John de Stratford [q. v.], archbishop of Canterbury. He seems to have been educated at Oxford, perhaps at Merton College, like his brother. He held the living of Overbury in 1319, which he exchanged for the rectory of his native town, Stratford-on-Avon, on 27 Oct. of that year; he resigned the rectory on 11 March 1333 (Dugdale, Warwickshire, p. 684). Stratford became a clerk in the royal service, and before 1328 had obtained a canonry at Wells, besides the prebends of Wrottesley, in Tettenhall free chapel, and Middleton at Wherwell. To these he added the prebends of Aylesbury, Lincolnshire, on 11 Oct. 1328, Bere and Charminster, Salisbury, on 8 Dec. 1330, and Edynden, Romsey, on 18 Jan. 1331 (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edward III, i. 28, ii. 23, 53, iii. 8; Cal. Papal Registers, ii. 283, 325). In April and November 1331 he was keeper of the great seal in his brother's absence, and on 16 Oct. of that year was made chancellor of the exchequer. On 26 Jan. 1332 he was made a papal chaplain (ib. ii. 368). In June 1332 he was appointed his brother's lieutenant in the chancery, and in December was one of the commissioners to open parliament at York. He again had charge of the seal in April 1334. On 12 June of that year he had reservation of the archdeaconry of Canterbury, and on 6 Aug. a reservation of the deanery of Wells, conditional on the cession of his archdeaconry (ib. ii. 401–2), which, however, he appears to have retained. In 1335 Stratford became chancellor of the university of Oxford, and it was chiefly through his firmness and prudence that the projected secession to Stamford was defeated. Afterwards he had leave of absence from the university, and at the special request of the masters retained his office till 1340 (Maxwell-Lyte, Hist. Univ. Oxford, p. 170). He had resigned the chancellorship of the exchequer on 22 Oct. 1334, and when John de Stratford became chancellor for the second time in June 1335, Robert once more became his lieutenant. Probably he continued to act in this capacity till 24 March 1337, when he was himself made chancellor.

In August 1337 Robert de Stratford was elected bishop of Chichester; the royal assent was given on 24 Aug., the temporalities were restored on 21 Sept. (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edward III, iii. 494, 520), and he was consecrated by John Stratford at Canterbury on 30 Nov. (Stubbs, Reg. Sacr. Angl. p. 54). On 6 July 1338 he was allowed to resign the chancellorship, but again accepted office on his brother's final resignation on 20 June 1340. In September he accompanied the king to Flanders, and was with him for a time in the camp before Tournay. He came back to England before the king, and when Edward suddenly returned to England was one of the officials who were dismissed from office on 1 Dec. He escaped from threatened imprisonment out of regard to his position as a bishop, and does not seem to have been included in the proceedings against his brother. He was present in his place in parliament during the stormy session in April–May 1341, when John de Stratford asserted his position (Anglia Sacra, i. 20, 38–9). Robert de Stratford no doubt recovered the king's favour at the same time as his brother. In May 1343 he was sent on a mission to the pope (Fœdera, ii. 1223), and in July 1345 was one of the council during the king's absence (ib. iii. 50). He died at Aldingbourne on 9 April 1362 (Anglia Sacra, i. 45), and was buried in Chichester Cathedral. He was an honest if not brilliant administrator, like his brother, to whom no doubt he chiefly owed his advancement. He was a benefactor of his native town, where he procured a grant of a toll for paving the streets in 1332, which was renewed in 1335 and 1337.

[Murimuth's Chron. (Rolls Ser.); Wharton's Anglia Sacra; Rolls of Parliament; Lee's Stratford-on-Avon, pp. 34–5; Foss's Judges of England; authorities quoted.]

C. L. K.